Do you ever notice when walking through a rose garden or nursery that there are more pink, red and white roses than any other colors? The majority of old roses fall into these color classes and have been used most often by hybridizers. There are very few naturally occurring yellow roses, and it is believed that all current yellow roses can trace their heritage to Rosa foetida – one that dates back to the 1500s. The yellow to orange coloring in roses appears to be a recessive trait that would disappear under the dominant influence of pink. In 1900, a French hybridizer introduced ‘Soleil d’Or’, a cross between a red hybrid perpetual and Rosa foetida persiana. This cross created a yellow rose that was able to survive interbreeding. Unfortunately, Rosa foetida (which by the way has a rather sickly-sweet odor) was very susceptible to black spot, and this trait has been carried forward to many modern yellow roses.
The good news is there are many wonderful yellow roses – hybrid teas, floribundas, shrubs and miniatures. Included below are a dozen roses that have an ARS rating of 8.0 or better and are classified as a light yellow, medium yellow or dark yellow color. I grow many of these and can attest to their overall great performance.
|Name||Type||Color||ARS Rating||Year Introduced|
|R. banksiae lutea||Species||Light yellow||9.2||~1824|
|Reve d’Or||Noisette||Medium yellow||9.2||1869|
|Golden Wings||Shrub||Light yellow||8.6||1956|
|Mermaid||Hybrid bracteata||Light yellow||8.5||1918|
|Elina||Hybrid tea||Light yellow||8.4||1984|
|My Sunshine||Miniature||Medium yellow||8.4||1986|
|Gold Medal||Grandiflora||Medium yellow||8.3||1982|
|Graham Thomas||Shrub||Deep yellow||8.2||1983|
|Mrs Oakley Fisher||Hybrid tea||Deep yellow||8.2||1921|
|Rise ‘n’ Shine||Miniature||Medium yellow||8.2||1977|
|Casino||Large-flowered climber||Light yellow||8.1||1963|
By Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian